by Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy- New Era, Jan 1998,
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In other words, the Savior increased or developed in the same areas indicated by those included in my poll:
• Intellectually (in wisdom and knowledge)
• Physically (in stature)
• Socially (in favor with man)
• Spiritually (in favor with God)
I am convinced that if we make and keep resolutions in these four areas, we will have a happier and more successful new year and every year for the rest of our lives. Consider the four areas already outlined. I Resolve to expand my intellectual horizons. I will increase in wisdom.
This year, commit yourself to read good books—not just when you are attending school, but throughout your life. Some people learn to read but don’t read. At some point in our lives, we learned to read. But are we reading? Are we growing in wisdom?
We cannot justify mentally shifting into neutral and failing to exert our efforts to progress intellectually. Whether or not you are in school, the challenge is the same. We should continue learning throughout our lives.
Albert came, and his future life was dramatically changed for the better. He said this new teacher didn’t just answer the questions. Instead he would write on the chalkboard the titles of the books where they could find the answers. A thirst for learning developed in Albert that was never quenched. He was a hard-working farmer, providing for a large family. But when I came to know him, I hardly remember his being in the house without a book in his work-worn hands. He would circle words he didn’t know and write their definitions in the margins. He was a real student of history and the doctrine of the Church. Although he never had the opportunity to attend school beyond the eighth grade, he read much more than most college graduates. He not only learned to read; he read.
It is impressive that more than 160 years ago the Lord revealed a health code, the Word of Wisdom, that can make all the difference in how we feel and perform. With good health, we can be happier and more successful. Without it, we are curtailed in almost every other way.
Follow the do’s in the Word of Wisdom. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Discover that a meal does not have to feature a meat dish in order to be enjoyable.
Then resolve to completely avoid the don’ts—tobacco, alcohol, and addictive stimulants, coffee, tea, and drugs—and you will be blessed in a multitude of ways. What an improved society we would live in if the whole world were to make a similar resolution.
President Romney said to me, “From that day on, I put that counsel into practice, and I know it works. Whenever I have a serious problem, or some assignment of a creative nature with which I hope to receive the influence of the Spirit, I always receive more assistance in the early morning hours than at any other time of the day.”
You can have a similar experience in your own life. You can change, even if you consider yourself a “night person.” Set the habit in 21 days. When it comes right down to it, it is a matter of strong resolve and “mind over mattress.”
Learn to be the kind of person with whom others of high standards enjoy associating. More than 50 years ago, Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon and Schuster). Among his suggestions that are equally valuable today are these time-honored principles for making friends:
• Become genuinely interested in other people.
• Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
• Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
• Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
• Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
Rather than working so hard to find Mister or Miss Right, work harder to become Mister or Miss Right and you will more likely have the social life and marriage you desire. Your challenge is to resolve to love everyone in the appropriate way. The full expression of romantic, physical affection is designed for you and one other person only, inside the bonds of marriage.
We must resolve to overcome as much as possible the sin of human pride. Pride causes us to become overly concerned as we compare ourselves with others about how intelligent we think we are, the brands of our clothing, to what organizations we belong, on which side of town we live, how much money we have, what our race or nationality is, what kind of car we drive, what church we attend, and on, and on, and on.
Someone calculated that no less than 30 times throughout the Book of Mormon, the cycles of prosperity and peace were destroyed, principally by human pride. Your opportunities, your relative prosperity, and our stratified society make overcoming inappropriate pride a genuine challenge.
One way to combat that problem is to resolve to read the scriptures daily. Within the pages of the Book of Mormon, there are 3,925 references to the Savior. It really is another testament that Jesus is the Christ. If we started on the first day of January and read just two pages of the Book of Mormon each day, by September we would have finished the entire book.
Another way to increase your spirituality is to really pray and not just say prayers. There is a big difference. Learn to pour out the real in-depth feelings of your heart to your Heavenly Father, rather than merely going through the form of saying about exactly the same trite words and phrases you have become accustomed to using.